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Intelsat Licensee LLC

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Released: September 25, 2012

Federal Communications Commission

DA 12-1532

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

)
In the Matter of
)
)

Intelsat Licensee LLC
)
IBFS File No. SAT-MSC-20100628-00160
)
Application to Suspend Operations
)
at the 129° W.L. Orbital Location
)
)

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Adopted: September 25, 2012

Released: September 25, 2012

By the Chief, Satellite Division, International Bureau:

I.

INTRODUCTION

1.
By this Order, we find that Intelsat Licensee LLC (Intelsat) has retained a replacement
expectancy to operate a space station using the 3700-4200 MHz and 5925-6425 MHz (C-band)
frequencies at the 129° W.L. orbital location.1 Intelsat had an unexpected gap in C-band capacity at this
orbital location due to an anomaly on an in-orbit satellite operating at a different orbital location that
rendered the in-orbit satellite inoperable. This anomaly led Intelsat to change its space station
deployment plan and to use the C-band space station intended for 129° W.L., Galaxy 12, as an
emergency replacement for the failed satellite. Once it recovered the failed satellite and brought it back
into service, Intelsat filed an application to relocate Galaxy 12 to 129° W.L., as originally planned. Under
these circumstances, we find that Intelsat should be able to continue to operate a C-band space station at
the 129° W.L. orbital location without being subject to competing applications. We also find that Intelsat
has lost its replacement expectancy for the 11.7-12.2 GHz and 14.0-14.5 GHz (Ku-band) frequencies at
this location. Intelsat terminated Ku-band operations at this orbital location two years ago, and has not
sought to reinstitute Ku-band service since that time. Consequently, we will make the Ku-band
frequencies at 129° W.L. available for reassignment.


1 The Petition initiating this proceeding was filed by Intelsat North America LLC. On January 18, 2011, Intelsat
North America LLC notified the Commission that it had changed its corporate name to Intelsat Licensee LLC. See
Letter to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary FCC, from Jennifer D. Hinden, Counsel for Intelsat Licensee LLC (Jan. 18,
2011).

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DA 12-1532

II.

BACKGROUND

2.
Intelsat began providing C-band service from the 129° W.L. orbital location in 2004,
using its C/Ku-band Galaxy 27 space station.2 On January 4, 2010, Intelsat filed an application to move
Galaxy 27 to another orbital location.3 On January 20, 2010, Intelsat filed an application for authority to
relocate its Galaxy 12 C-band space station from 122.9° W.L. to 129° W.L.4 Intelsat stated that it
planned to have Galaxy 12 in operation at 129° W.L. in mid-April 2010, enabling it to continue to
provide C-band service at that location after it redeployed Galaxy 27.5
3.
In April 2010, Intelsat’s Galaxy 15 C-band space station, operating at 133° W.L.,
experienced a technical anomaly that resulted in Intelsat being unable to command the satellite. This
caused Galaxy 15 to drift out of its east/west station keeping box and rendered it incapable of providing
service.6 In May 2010, Intelsat amended its modification application for Galaxy 12 to change the
requested orbital location from 129° W.L. to 133° W.L.7 The relocation was necessary, Intelsat stated,
to allow Galaxy 12 to assume Galaxy 15’s customer traffic and avoid any degradation to customer
service.8
4.
On June 28, 2010, Intelsat filed a petition requesting authority to suspend C-band and
Ku-band operations at the 129° W.L. orbital location for more than 90 days pursuant to Section 25.161(c)
of the Commission’s rules.9 This rule provides that a license will automatically terminate upon removal
or modification of the facilities which renders the station not operational for more than 90 days, unless


2 The Commission authorized the assignment of Galaxy 27’s license from Loral Satellite, Inc. to Intelsat in 2004.
Loral Satellite, Inc., Order and Authorization, 19 FCC Rcd 2402 (Int’l Bur. 2004).
3 IBFS File No. SAT-STA-20100105-00004. Galaxy 27 (Call Sign S2159) is now operating at 45.10° E.L. under
German authority. Intelsat North America LLC, IBFS File No. SAT-T/C-20100112-00009 (granted July 30,
2010).
4 PanAmSat Licensee Corp., IBFS File No. SAT-MOD-20100120-00013 (January 2010 Modification
Application
). PanAmSat Corp. initially held the license for Galaxy 12. See PanAmSat Licensee Corp., IBFS File
No. SAT-MOD-20080630-00133 (grant stamped Sept. 8, 2008). In December 2010, the Commission authorized
various internal assignments and transfers that resulted in a majority of Intelsat’s and its affiliates’ authorizations,
including those held by PanAmSat Licensee Corp, being held by a single subsidiary, Intelsat Licensee Corp. See
IBFS File No. SAT-T/C-20101203-00253 (granted Dec. 23, 2010).
5 January 2010 Modification Application at 2.
6 See PanAmSat License Corp., IBFS File No. SAT-STA-20100409-00071 (grant stamped Apr. 9, 2010).
7 See PanAmSat Licensee Corp., IBFS File No. SAT-AMD-20100514-00102 (grant stamped Oct. 15, 2010) (May
2010 Amendment
). Galaxy 12 assumed Galaxy 15’s customer traffic by April 20, 2010, pursuant to special
temporary. IBFS File No. SAT-STA-20100408-00070 (granted Apr. 9, 2010).
8 PanAmSat License Corp., May 2010 Amendment, Legal Narrative at 2 (unnumbered).
9 47 C.F. R. § 25.161(c).
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DA 12-1532

specific authority is requested.10 Intelsat states that it intended to relocate Galaxy 12 to the 129° W.L.
orbital location shortly after it redeployed Galaxy 27, but was forced to change its plans as a result of
Galaxy 15’s “extraordinary and unforeseen” anomaly.11 Intelsat stated that if it could recover Galaxy 15
it would operate the satellite at 133° W.L. and would redeploy to 129° W.L. If Galaxy 15 could not be
recovered, Intelsat stated it would begin the process of securing another satellite to move to 133° W.L. in
the fall of 2010. Intelsat noted this process could take from 30-36 months, after which it would then
move Galaxy 12 to 129° W.L. Intelsat states that under either scenario, it planned to move Galaxy 12 to
129° W.L. well in advance of the five-year time frame afforded to licensees to construct and launch a
new satellite.12 Intelsat later supplemented its Petition to eliminate the portion of the request pertaining
to suspending operations in the Ku-band.13
5.
In December 2010, Intelsat reported that Galaxy 15 had resumed accepting commands.14
Intelsat then asked for, and received authority, to drift Galaxy 15 to 93° W.L. for in-orbit testing.15 In
May 2011, Intelsat stated that it had recovered nominal operations of Galaxy 15 at the 93° W.L. orbital
location and planned to return the space station to the 133° W.L. orbital location.16 Galaxy 15 resumed
normal operations at 133° W.L. in October 2011.17 In the same month, Intelsat filed an application
seeking authority to relocate Galaxy 12 to 129° W.L.18

III.

DISCUSSION

A.

C-band Frequencies

6.
Although Intelsat requests a favorable finding under Section 25.161(c) of the
Commission’s rules with respect to the C-band frequencies, we must analyze whether grant of its request
is warranted under the Commission’s policy regarding replacement satellites. We then address Intelsat’s
request for relief under Section 25.161(c).
7.
Replacement Policy. The Commission has consistently said that orbital assignments
confer no permanent rights of use. It has, however, recognized the importance of giving satellite
operators assurances that they will be able to continue to serve their customers from the same orbital


10 Intelsat North America LLC, Petition for Specific Authority Under Section 25.161(c), IBFS File No. SAT-MSC-
20100628-00160 (Intelsat Petition).
11 Id. at 2.
12 Id. at 4. See 47 C.F.R. § 25.164(a).
13 Letter to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, from Jennifer Hindin, Counsel for Intelsat Licensee LLC (June 21,
2012) (Intelsat June 21 Letter).
14 Intelsat Licensee LLC, IBFS File No. SAT-STA-20110425-00076 (granted June 8, 2011).
15 Id.
16 Intelsat Licensee LLC, IBFS File No. SAT-STA-20110523-00094 (granted July 21, 2011).
17 Letter to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary FCC, from Susan Crandall, Intelsat Corporation (Nov. 3, 2011).
18 Intelsat Licensee LLC, IBFS File No. SAT-MOD-20111011-00197.
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DA 12-1532

location as older satellites are retired.19 The Commission has stated that without this assurance, space
station operators and their customers would be required to undertake the potentially disruptive and costly
process of repointing antennas to space stations at different locations when older satellites are taken out
of service. Thus, the Commission has stated it will generally authorize replacement satellites at the same
orbital location as the older space station without considering competing applications.20
8.
The Commission defines a replacement satellite as one that is “authorized to be operated
at the same orbit location, in the same frequency bands, and with the same coverage area as one of the
licensee’s existing satellites,” and is “scheduled to be launched so that it will be brought into use at
approximately the same time, but no later than, the existing satellite is retired.”21 Where a space station
operator fails to replace a space station, the spectrum is made available to other parties for reassignment.
9.
In situations where a satellite has a catastrophic in-orbit or launch failure, the
Commission may authorize “emergency replacement” satellites without considering competing
applications – even if there is some lapse in service. The Commission has authorized emergency
replacement satellites in cases where the licensee has promptly filed an application to construct, launch,
and operate a new satellite that will serve as a replacement, or has filed an application to move an in-orbit
satellite into that location that will restore service promptly.22
10.
Typically, the Commission has invoked the emergency replacement policy when a
satellite fails during launch. Because satellites are generally expected to last about 15 years,23 and are
extremely expensive and time-consuming to build and launch,24 satellite operators generally do not


19 Amendment of the Commission’s Space Station Licensing Rules and Policies, First Report and Order, IB
Docket No. 02-34, 18 FCC Rcd 10760, 10854-55 (2003) (Space Station Licensing Reform Order).
20 See Assignment of Orbital Locations to Space Stations in the Domestic Fixed-Satellite Service, 3 FCC Rcd 6972,
n. 31 (1988). See also Licensing of Space Stations in the Domestic Fixed-Satellite Service, 50 FR 36071, para 27
(Sept. 5, 1985); Space Station Licensing Reform Order, 18 FCC Rcd at 10854; GE American Communications
Corp., Order and Authorization, 10 FCC Rcd 13775 at 13775-76 (Int’l Bur. 1995); and Loral SpaceCom Corp.,
Order and Authorization, 13 FCC Rcd 16348, 16440 (Int’l Bur., Sat. and Rad. Div. 1995).
21 47 C.F.R. § 25.165(e)(1) and (2).
22 See, e.g., Loral Spacecom Corp., Order and Authorization, 13 FCC Rcd 16438 (Sat. Div. 1998) (granted
application filed in April 1997 requesting authority to launch and operate a ground spare as an emergency
replacement for the Satcom IV satellite that suffered an in-orbit failure in January 1997); Volunteers in Technical
Assistance, Order, 12 FCC Rcd 3094 (Int’l Bur. 1997) (granted application filed in January 1996 to launch and
operate an emergency replacement satellite for the VITASAT-1 satellite that was destroyed by launch failure in
August 1995; replacement satellite to be launched by March 1997); American Telephone and Telegraph Company,
Order and Authorization, DA 95-1972, 10 FCC Rcd 12132 (Int'l Bur. 1995) (authorizing the launch and operation
of Telstar 402R by December 1995, which was to serve as an emergency replacement satellite for the Telstar 402
satellite lost shortly after its launch in September 1994); and Hughes Communications Galaxy, Inc., Memorandum
Opinion, Order and Authorization
, 8 FCC Rcd 5089 (1993) (granting Hughes’s October 1992 application to
construct, launch, and operate an emergency replacement satellite by December 1994 to replace a satellite that
failed in August 1992).
23 Amendment of the Commission’s Space Station Licensing Rules and Policies, First Report and Order, 17 FCC
Rcd 3847, 3895-96 (para. 143) (2002).
24 Amendment of the Commission’s Space Station Licensing Rules and Policies, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
and First Report and Order
, 17 FCC Rcd 3847, 3886 (2002).
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DA 12-1532

construct spare satellites that could be substituted for a failed satellite in the event of a launch failure.
Accordingly, if a satellite fails during launch, we have allowed the operator to promptly move an in-orbit
satellite into the vacant location or to promptly begin to construct a new satellite it will launch into that
location without considering competing applications. Similarly, if a satellite fails early in its life, and
before the operator could be expected to begin making plans for a replacement, we would allow the
operator to apply for and retain a replacement expectancy in cases where it promptly restores service
from that orbital location.
11.
Intelsat planned to move the C-band Galaxy 12 space station to the 129° W.L. orbital
location to replace the C/Ku-band Galaxy 27 space station in April 2010.25 Four days after Intelsat
moved Galaxy 27, however, Intelsat’s five year old Galaxy 15 satellite, which had been operating at the
133° W.L. orbital location, unexpectedly failed.26 Intelsat states that it then decided to change its plans
and use Galaxy 12 to restore service at the 133° W.L. orbital location rather than the 129° W.L. orbital
location.27 We recognize that Intelsat’s decision to redeploy Galaxy 12 in this manner was a business
decision. Nevertheless, we will not penalize Intelsat because it chose to use a satellite targeted for one
location as an emergency replacement for a satellite that unexpectedly failed at another orbital location.
As noted, satellite operators do not generally have spare satellites in reserve to replace satellites that
unexpectedly fail. Under the circumstances, Intelsat decided that its customers would best be served by
moving Galaxy 12 into the 133° W.L. location rather than leaving that location vacant, and instead
leaving the 129° W.L. location vacant until it could recover Galaxy 15 or bring a new satellite into
operation at 133° W.L.
12.
Consequently, we find that Intelsat did not lose its C-band replacement expectancy at
129° W.L. simply by choosing to redeploy Galaxy 12 to 133° W.L. as an emergency replacement.
Rather, consistent with our emergency replacement policy, we consider Intelsat’s efforts to reinstitute C-
band service at the 129° W.L. orbital location to determine whether Intelsat has retained a replacement
expectancy to deploy another C-band satellite to that location despite the gap in service.
13.
In this regard, we note that Intelsat thought there was a possibility it could re-establish
command of Galaxy 15 in the August/September 2010 timeframe.28 This was four to five months after
the anomaly occurred. While Intelsat was not immediately successful recovering the satellite, it
continued to make progress. In January 2011, Intelsat reported that Galaxy 15 had begun to accept
commands and send telemetry signals, and requested authority to move Galaxy 15 to 93° W.L. for
testing.29 In February 2011, Intelsat asked for, and received authority, to begin drifting Galaxy 15 to
133.1° W.L., where it would operate as an in-orbit spare until it placed it back into service.30 In
September 2011, Intelsat filed a request to move Galaxy 15 back to 133° W.L., to operate the space


25 PamAmSat Licensee Corp., IBFS File No. SAT-AMD-20100514-00102 (granted Oct. 15, 2010).
26 Intelsat Petition at 1.
27 Id. at 2.
28 Id. at 4. We note that Intelsat advised Satellite Division staff on a regular basis of ongoing progress made to
recover Galaxy 15.
29 Intelsat Licensee LLC, IBFS File No. SAT-STA-20110107-00007.
30 Intelsat Licensee LLC, IBFS File No. SAT-STA-20110623-00118.
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DA 12-1532

station pursuant to the existing authorization, and to transfer traffic from Galaxy 12 to Galaxy 15.31 In
October 2011, Intelsat filed an application to move Galaxy 12 to 129° W.L.32 Galaxy 12 is currently
operating at 129° W.L. pursuant to special temporary authority.33 Thus, we find that Intelsat made
continued, and ultimately successful, efforts to regain control of and restore service on Galaxy 15. These
efforts enabled Intelsat to move Galaxy 12 to 129° W.L. as initially planned, as quickly as possible.
Given these circumstances, we find that Intelsat has retained its replacement expectancy to operate a C-
band space station at the 129° W.L. orbital location. In a separate action today, we grant Intelsat’s
November 2011 modification application to operate Galaxy 12 at the 129° W.L. orbital location.
14.
Section 25.161(c). While we have analyzed Intelsat’s request under the Commission’s
replacement expectancy policy, we recognize that Intelsat relied on Section 25.161(c) of the
Commission’s rules in its Petition requesting authority to leave the 129° W.L. orbit location vacant.
Section 25.161(c) states that a station authorization shall be automatically terminated upon “[t]he
removal…of the facilities which renders the station not operational for more than 90 days, unless specific
authority is requested.”34 Here, Intelsat redeployed Galaxy 27 from 129° W.L. to a different orbital
location, where it is no longer operating under a U.S. station authorization. Further, Intelsat has not
requested authority to retain its U.S. station authorization for Galaxy 27.35 Thus, Section 25.161(c) does
not apply in this case.
15.
Even assuming Section 25.161(c) could be applied, it would not change the result. The
Commission has stated that Section 25.161(c) is intended to avoid unacceptable lapses in service from a
particular space station to customers, as well as to prevent warehousing of scarce orbit and spectrum
resources.36 These are the same policy considerations underlying the Commission’s emergency
replacement expectancy policy. Because Intelsat would have relocated Galaxy 12 to the 129° W.L.
orbital location in April 2010 but for the Galaxy 15’s unexpected anomaly, and made every effort to
redeploy Galaxy 12 to 129° W.L. as quickly as possible, there are no conflicts with the Commission’s
policy against spectrum warehousing.

B.

Ku-Band Frequencies

.
16.
Intelsat has not used the Ku-band frequencies at the 129° W.L. orbital location since it
moved Galaxy 27 to another orbital location more than two years ago. Galaxy 12 has C-band capacity


31 Intelsat Licensee LLC, IBFS File No. SAT-STA-20110915-00181.
32 Intelsat Licensee LLC, IBFS File No. SAT-MOD-20111011-00197.
33 Intelsat began operating Galaxy 12 at 129° W.L. pursuant to special temporary authority in December 2011. See
Intelsat Licensee LLC, IBFS File No. SAT-STA-2011118-00223 (granted Dec. 1, 2011) renewed in IBFS File No.
SAT-STA-20111227-00252 (granted Jan. 19, 2012); SAT-STA-20120124-00009 (granted Feb. 9, 2012); SAT-
STA-20120323-00060 (granted Apr. 18, 2012); and IBFS File No. 20120521-00086 (granted June 6, 2012).
34 47 C.F.R. § 25.161(c) (emphasis added).
35 See, e.g., SES Americom, Inc., Memorandum Opinion and Order, 21 FCC Rcd 14785 (Int’l Bur. 2006) and
SES Americom, Inc., Order and Authorization, 21 FCC Rcd 3430, 3434 (Int’l Bur. 2006) (allowing SES to retain
its license for the AMC-16 space station while it temporarily relocated AMC-16 to another orbital location and
operated it pursuant to Canadian authority).
36 SES Americom, Inc., 21 FCC Rcd at 14788.
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DA 12-1532

only. Intelsat has not applied for authority to operate a Ku-band satellite at 129° W.L. and has confirmed
that it has no plans to use the Ku-band frequencies “at this time.”37 Under these circumstances, allowing
Intelsat to continue to retain a replacement expectancy for the Ku-band spectrum at the 129° W.L. orbital
location would allow it to warehouse scare orbital and spectrum resources to the exclusion of others.
Thus, we conclude that Intelsat has lost its replacement expectancy for the 11.7-12.2 GHz and 14.0-14.5
GHz frequencies at 129° W.L., and we will make these frequencies available for reassignment.

IV.

CONCLUSION AND ORDERING CLAUSES

17.
Based on the foregoing, we find that Intelsat Licensee LLC has retained its replacement
expectancy for the 3700-4200 MHz and 5925-6425 MHz frequency bands at the 129° W.L. orbital
location. Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED, that Intelsat Licensee LLC’s Petition, IBFS File No. SAT-
MSC-20100628-00160, as supplemented, is GRANTED.
18.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Intelsat has lost its replacement expectancy for the
11.7-12.2 GHz and 14.0-14.5 GHz frequencies. Accordingly, the 11.7-12.2 GHz and 14.0-14.5 GHz
frequencies at the 129° W.L. orbital location are available for reassignment pursuant to the
Commission’s first-come, first-served licensing process, effective 2:00 EDT on Tuesday, October 2,
2012. At that time, applicants may file applications for new space stations, market access by non-U.S.
licensed space stations, modifications to licensed space stations, or amendments to pending applications
taking this announcement into account. Such applications filed prior to this date and time will be
dismissed as premature without prejudice to refiling.
19.
This Order is issued pursuant to Section 0.261 of the Commission’s rules on delegated
authority, 47 C.F.R. § 0.261, and is effective upon release.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Robert G. Nelson
Chief, Satellite Division
International Bureau


37 Intelsat June 21 Letter.
7

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